When we launch a new programme we don't just think about one placement, we try to think about how we can best develop the whole experience. In many cases that means including a split placement option or a Village Healthcare Experience. This allows students to compare different settings and get a much broader view of healthcare in their chosen destination. This option repeatedly gets great feedback in our student survey.
Pharmacy is our most recent development, and it's already proving to be a success. We developed the placement originally because Saskatchewen University in Canada were looking for an overseas placement option for their students. It was a new area for us, but we have the relationships with the hospitals and were able to set up something that matched their requirements.
Pharmacy in Ghana is a very different kettle of fish - drugs are expensive and scarce, and pharmacists are not seen as integral in the delivery of healthcare. This is a common opinion in developing countries, but there is indication that as pharmacists become more involved in patient care in the western world, things are starting to change in countries like Ghana. It's a slow process, but our placement offers a happy medium between delivering care within hospital limitations, using creativity to treat a wide range of pathologies and championing the role of pharmacists on ward rounds with the doctors.
We could have just left it there, but instead we worked hard to provide the students with an option that would allow them to broaden their experience. We came up with a tailored Village Healthcare Experience that would allow pharmacy students to see the difference between city and rural pharmacies.
The Village Healthcare Experience in Ghana takes students to live in rural communities for one week. They stay with a local family and work in a small clinic, spending their free afternoons getting involved in local cultures and traditions, visiting sacred sites and taking part in activities in the area. Pharmacists will be able to join in with all of this, but rather than focus on providing treatment and care we will place emphasis on allowing them to have input in the choice and quantity of medication (within reason!). We also encourage knowledge sharing sessions where our students can explain more about pharmacy practice in their home country.
It's such a good option that almost every pharmacy student has signed up. As soon as the first ones return we will be sure to get a report on the website so that you can see just what they learned and how it has translated into their personal and professional development.